Author Topic: One Cocker or two?  (Read 24518 times)

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Offline Jane S

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One Cocker or two?
« on: April 16, 2003, 03:11:49 PM »
One Puppy Or Two?
Many people think that it would be a good idea to have two puppies at the same time as company for each other (particularly if the would-be owners work full time & are away from the home for long hours) However, many reputable breeders will not consider letting 2 puppies go to the same home unless the potential owners are experienced dog owners with virtually unlimited time available for training. The possible problems that can occur with buying 2 puppies are as follows:

Two puppies often take longer to train than one puppy. Two pups together can be more difficult to train than one. They will be easily distracted by each other & may find it hard to concentrate on what their owner is trying to teach them. People who do go ahead with buying a pair of puppies must make sure they have plenty of time on their hands so that they can undertake separate training sessions with each puppy. All puppies are demanding of an owner’s time & attention – an owner who can devote all their time to just one puppy is likely to have a better trained, well-balanced dog once adult – one that can help teach a younger companion the ropes should the decision be made to add a second dog to the family at a later stage.

Two puppies can become fierce rivals as they become young adults.Two puppies (especially same sex puppies) that are evenly matched with similar, confident temperaments often become jealous of each other as they hit adolescence resulting in many disagreements & eventually episodes of fighting. This sibling rivalry often cannot be resolved except by separating the pair in different parts of the house or by rehoming one of the pair – a heartbreaking decision for any owner to have to make
Two puppies can become over dependant on each other. The opposite side of the coin to the above situation can occur where a submissive puppy relies too much on the other puppy for it’s confidence & becomes so over-dependant that it cannot cope when separated from its companion (as sometimes is necessary, for example, if one of the pair needs veterinary treatment). If such a dog loses its companion (sadly this does sometimes happen), he or she will become extremely anxious & distressed. Such a puppy could develop into a much better balanced, more confident animal if it was brought up alone with a family who could devote the time to training the puppy as an individual.

Two puppies left alone together can create twice the damage. Any puppy left alone for long periods can get frustrated & bored, leading to chewing the furniture, messing the floor, barking & howling etc. Two puppies together will still get bored if left alone too long & two bored puppies can create twice the damage that one can do! No owner should buy two puppies as a means of compensating for not being able to spend enough time at home with their dog(s).

When to buy a second dog?
Having said that buying two puppies together is not generally advisable, it is still true that two well-trained dogs that have a close relationship with their owner & get on well with each other are a delight. So when is the right time to have a second dog?  Most good breeders & behavioural experts recommend that you start with one puppy & then wait until that puppy is fully matured & trained to your satisfaction before adding to your canine family. It is not a good idea to buy a second dog if you are experiencing any behavioural or training difficulties with your first dog, as you will then probably end up with two dogs with the same problem due to the tendency for young puppies to copy the example of their elders. On the other hand, if your first dog is well behaved & responding well to training, then a new puppy can benefit from this good example. Also consider whether your first dog would actually welcome the company of another puppy. A Cocker who has been well-socialised from puppy-hood will generally get on very well with other dogs & will appreciate a companion to play with but some may be fearful of other dogs or just not like them very much. Such dogs may accept a second dog into the home eventually but their owners should be prepared for quite a long period of adjustment.

Opinions differ on exactly when is the best time to introduce a second dog into the family. Many breeders & behavioural experts recommend that you leave a gap of at least 12-18 months after buying a puppy before adding a new one, although some recommend longer, perhaps 2 years or more. This is to try to establish a settled hierarchy between the two dogs, with the younger one happy to defer to the older dog. However, a settled canine hierarchy also depends on personality not just age. If your first dog is a bold, bossy type of dog, then it makes sense to look for a more laid-back, placid companion as two bossy dogs together may not get on very well once they are mature, regardless of whether there is a good age difference between them.

Dog or Bitch? Once you have decided that the time is right to add a second dog to the family, the next question to consider is what sex that second dog should be? Should you opt for the same sex as your first dog or should you go for the opposite sex?

A dog and a bitch can be a good combination as it is rare for a dog & bitch not to get on well, although obviously consideration will have to be given to neutering one of the pair to avoid unplanned puppies. It is also not fair to expect an entire dog to have to share his home with a bitch in season as many dogs will get very fretful at such times, leading to loss of appetite & weight loss.

Many owners decide on getting a puppy of the same sex as their first dog & this too works very well as long as there is a sufficient age gap between them & their personalities are not too similar.

By J Simmonds 2003